About 100 000 bus commuters have been impacted by the ongoing taxi violence, with Community MEC Albert Fritz calling the warring taxi factions “terrorists”.
“There are terrorists existing in this province at the moment. Private cars are now being targeted. I call them terrorists because they are worse than our gangsters,” Fritz said during a conference held by Premier Alan Winde.
They were joined by provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile and Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell.
Winde said: “These warlords and thugs in the taxi industry are holding so many of our citizens to ransom.
“The murders we have seen in the last while, the innocent citizens and bystanders that are affected by this thuggish behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and needs to be dealt with in the harshest terms possible.
“These thugs need to be arrested. These thugs need to be taken off our streets.”
This followed the news that yet another taxi driver was shot and injured yesterday morning.
Thousands of workers had to make alternative travel arrangements as bus drivers refused to get behind the wheel, after a Golden Arrow bus driver was shot in the face while driving on the N2 near Borcherds Quarry on Monday.
Thousands of bus commuters struggle with service limited to 40%. Video: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
It was the third attack on buses in since the weekend and Golden Arrow said it was forced to limit its service in the interest of the safety of both commuters and drivers.
While many commuters opted to stay at home, others waited in hope for a bus to arrive after bosses threatened to dock their pay if they didn’t come to work.
Golden Arrow said they would continue to operate a limited service and advised commuters to make alternative travel arrangements.
GABS spokesperson Bronwen Dyke-Beyer told African News Agency (ANA) that of their 1 100 buses, they were currently running at 40% capacity, with the most affected routes being Blue Downs, Mitchells Plain and Delft.
“Approximately 100 000 of our own passengers and thousands of others who were not able to make use of taxis and trains were affected,” she said.
Patekile said buses were being escorted by officers and unmarked vehicles were moving between routes to ensure stability and a swift reaction should anything happen.
Roadblocks were being set up and all firearms, whether registered or not, were being confiscated and sent for ballistic testing.
“As of Monday, 12 members from Cata and Codeta have been arrested and 14 firearms have been recovered.
“We have not been able to link them to the shooting incidents. The firearms have been sent for ballistic testing,” Patekile said.
He said additional police officers have also been deployed to trains, while members of the SANDF remained in the province.
A Mitchells Plain woman, Shireen Martin, says she decided to stay home because there were no buses to Century City, and the “no work, no pay” policy applies.
“I struggled getting home on Monday night and had to club with other people to take an e-hailing taxi home,” she says.
“Some people didn’t have money to travel home because they bought clipcards and no one could have anticipated this.
“I live in an area where there are no Codeta or Cata taxis but I was stuck and didn’t go to work and I will not get paid for the day. Government must do something about this mess because it is us who are affected, not them.”
In Witsand, Atlantis, the chairman of Cata Saxonworld, Joseph Nkela, 42, was shot and wounded by unknown men when he came out of his house in Mgna Street at about 4.30am.
He sustained gunshot wounds to his chest and legs.
SAPS’ FC van Wyk says they are investigating an attempted murder case with no arrests yet.
Meanwhile, Cata and Codeta have still not reached an agreement despite the intervention of several government departments including Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Mbabula travelled to Cape Town for meetings on Friday and Saturday after eight people including passengers were gunned down last week.
Cata and Codeta are feuding over the Bellville to Paarl/Mbekweni route.
MEC Mitchell warned that if a resolution is not reached soon, he will start closing ranks and routes.
He said other modes of public transport are still operating, including minibus taxis not affiliated to the affected associations.
“I have published my intention in terms of Section 91 of the Land Transport Act to consider the closing of routes and ranks should the situation continue,” he says.
Western Cape Cosatu spokesperson Malvern de Bruyn encourages workers who have been threatened by their employers to contact them.
“We are going to stand up for the employees, their salaries can’t be cut because they missed work when employers know about the taxi violence,” he said.
“If they experience any intimidation, they can call us or go to our Facebook page, we will take on those companies.”